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Abylai Khan

Great Nomadic Camps. Abylai Khan


after B.Gabdullin


Bigeldy Gabdullin was born in 1955, famous essayist, writer and translator. The President of Kazakhstani Pen Club. The below extract is about the personal development of a young orphan who became the Great Warrior and Great Khan.

         An orphan. The outcast from his homeland. He was still upheld his noble origins. He pastured the camels of Daulet bai (they say it was Tole Biy himself).

         The boy was shabbily dressed and his coat consisted of many patches. The nickname “Sabalak” (shaggy) had been given to him because of his clothes. One of the bai’s wives – the women are so clever – noticed the strange behaviour of this rootless boy which pointed to the “noble blood” in his veins. He didn’t eat much, never asked for food and never used dirty dishes.

         One day he opened his heart and his story to the bai. He said that he was a son of a Sultan, but his father and his relatives had died, that they had been killed by the Oirats, and he had become an orphan. The kind and faithful people had taken him far away to foreign land where no villain could touch him.

         The boy grew up and felt that he had been born for great deeds and glorious achievements. The disaster came to the Steppe and the people started to gather into the army, the boy requested Tole Biy to let him go to the battlefield.

         Anyrakai. Two armies – the Dzungars and the Kazakhs stood motionless one facing the other. And the superior batyr Sharysh strutted to and fro on his horse in the neutral area. He was the Dzungar Batyr.

         The sun gilded the spearheads and helmets of the warriors and the arid dust of long-suffering Kazakh land was rising under the hooves of Batyr’s horse.

         Who of all the Kazakhs, following the Steppe’s customs, would come to the fearful combat with huge Sharysh?

         Then suddenly, from the ranks of the Kazakh army, appeared a horseman. He was slim as an arrow and flexible as a string, he was armoured according to the rules of the battle.    

         “Who is it? Who is it?” the people were surprised. And in the full silence somebody pronounced “Sabalak!”


         The battle hero who had defeated Sharysh was invited to Abilmambet Khan. The boy was standing aside. Khan got off his horse and turned to Sabalak. Was it really the hero of the battle? The boy’s face was young but his armour was very good and expensive. Khan knew that it was Tole Biy who had equipped the boy.

         “What is your name?”

         “Abulmansur, the grandson of Khan Abylai.”

         It became clear why he was crying “Abylai!” during the battle. At that extreme moment of his life Sabalak had appealed to the spirit of his grandfather.

         “Let him fight under this name from now on. Let the people know that his name is Abylai” announced Abilmambet Khan. He reflected, “Tole Biy is so lucky. How and where did he find such a wonder of nature?”

         If this boy was really Genghiside he would enjoy a successful future and would surely be on his way to the throne of a Khan.


  1. New words.

    outcast – қуғындалушы – изгнанник

    patches – жамау – заплаты

    oirats – ойраттар – ойраты

          faithful people – сенімді адамдар – верные люди

glorious achievements – даңқты жетістіктер – славные свершения

strutted to and fro – салтанатпен жүрді – гарцевал

hooves – тұяқтар – копыта

fearful combat – алапат шайқас – страшная битва

was armoured – жабдықталған – был экипирован

get off – аттан түсу, жаяу жүру – спешиться

extreme moment – шешуші сәт – решающий момент

wonder of nature – жаратылыс ғажабы – чудо природы

Genghiside – Шыңғыс хан ұрпағы – Чингизид


  1. Answer the questions.


    - Why did the people call the boy “Sabalak”?

    - How did the people understand that the boy had “noble blood”?

    - What story did the boy tell Tole Biy?

    - Why did people start to gather into army?

    - What was the name of Dzungar Batyr?

    - Describe the horseman who appeared suddenly.

    - What did Sabalak cry during the battle?

    - Who ordered people to call Sabalak “Abylai”?


  2. Listen, try to retell it in English.

     Terme* about Abylai Khan.


* terme – genre of Kazakh musical poetry.


Anyrakai Battle.

General Kazakh Territorial Army was called after the big quriltai in Ordabasy.

It was headed by the Khan of the junior zhuz – Abulkhair. He was the talented warrior. There were thirty thousands of soldiers from all zhuses under his rule.

Anyrakai mountains and lake Alakol were the important strategic points. Mountaneous landscape was suitable for mounted attacks. This place was chosen for the battle.

After all previous defeats Kazakh forces were perfectly equipped.

As the legend says, the battle started from the combat between Sharysh – Dzungars’ batyr and the future khan Abylai from the Kazakh side.

The historians have been arguing about the duration of Anyrakai battle. Even the year is arguable, approximately spring of 1729.

But there are the undoubted facts: during the battle the unwinnable army of Dzungars retreated. Kazakh lands were took back. 

“Terme” – genre of Kazakh musical poetry.

“Terme” are considered to be the features of reason and spiritual maturity. They are the philosophic pieces of art consisting of proverbs, saying and wisdom quotations.

The aim of “terme” is to arouse the high humane qualities, warning from the deeds which are alien to humanity and education of young generation in the spirit of humanism and love to Motherland.







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Total comments: 3
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